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m.Net Research: Mobile data services come of age

  • 16 April, 2008 17:58

<p>The annual international study investigates mobile phone user engagement beyond voice and looks at the current type and levels of MDS, the influencing factors and barriers to the use of MDS, and the use of MDS across global markets.</p>
<p>m.Net Corporation, which coordinates the project in Australia together with the Department of Commerce, University of Adelaide, defines MDS as “all of the digital data services that you access through your mobile phone excluding voice calls”. This includes purchasing, communications, information and entertainment.</p>
<p>The study found MDS is an important factor in the choice of carriers and handsets.</p>
<p>“Cost is still a key barrier to the use of MDS, but there is certainly starting to be a change in mindset, and the masses are starting to come on board with MDS,” says Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, Director of Research, m.Net Corporation.</p>
<p>“MDS wasn’t even on the radar 12-18 months ago, but it’s becoming an influencing factor in not only the measure of carrier satisfaction, but also in what would encourage consumers to change carrier if they had better MDS offerings. Overall, 60% of respondents consider MDS a reason to change carrier.</p>
<p>“The usability of the handset is also becoming more important to consumers (80% of respondents wanted a larger screen, for example). This sets the groundwork for the use of the phone beyond voice and SMS.”</p>
<p>Another key finding was that people are just as likely to use their mobile phone for MDS at home as they are when they are out and about. According to Dr Maio Mackay, this reinforces the importance of innovation, not replication on the mobile phone.</p>
<p>“People don’t want to see exactly what they see on their PC, TV or in magazines on their phone. They want something that is complementary, an offering they can’t get elsewhere. Nor do they just switch off their phone when they go home. The mobile phone is clearly not a replacement for their other tools,” she explains.</p>
<p>“Companies in the mobile space, and not just carriers, need to provide a completely separate offering and create an experience that is unique and innovative. While it should tie into what they are offering through their other channels, it should not replicate it.”</p>
<p>The number of people accessing Web sites on their mobile phone is also growing rapidly compared to past research, with over 40% of Australian respondents saying they had. This is without any apparent cannibalisation or impact on the use of the Internet on their PCs.</p>
<p>In terms of actual MDS usage, communication dominates, with 80% of respondents in Australia often or sometimes using communication services. In Australia the use of mobile media messaging is particularly high (54%).</p>
<p>Almost 40% of Australian respondents regularly use information services and 30% are regular users of entertainment on their mobile phones in Australia. The use of purchasing MDS is lower, due primarily to the limited services currently available.</p>
<p>Weather and news remain popular, but entertainment, musical gigs and audio and video downloads are all growing as services people have used, but not necessarily purchased, while the growth of ring tones has actually dropped.</p>
<p>“This reinforces the idea that when companies in the mobile space are communicating through MDS, they need to provide a mix of interaction and content that reflects both current behaviour and growing trends. For example, you might send people an SMS message and attach an audio clip, and people expect that, especially from companies with whom they have an existing relationship,” Dr Maio Mackay says.</p>
<p>Almost half of respondents use MDS for less than 10 minutes a week, but as MDS costs are coming down this is likely to increase. Dr Maio Mackay is also surprised that almost 60% of Australian respondents are willing to pay some fee for unlimited MDS access.</p>
<p>“It’s a significant change in mindset that they’re now assigning a certain value to MDS. Generally they’ve been prepared to pay nothing or it’s been in exchange for advertising through a third party model,” she says.</p>
<p>The study also found that around 80% of people, regardless of age, pay their own mobile phone bill, somewhat debunking the notion that many younger people have their bills paid for by their parents and others by their employers. Dr Maio Mackay points out this means there is usually only a single decision-making point, which is good news for companies.</p>
<p>In addition, although 60% of respondents pay by monthly plan, capped monthly plans have become more popular than uncapped ones. Dr Maio Mackay believes this reflects the bundling that carriers are offering in their price packaging, which again is more conducive to MDS, as a capped plan can include more access to MDS.</p>
The Wireless data services study is an annual online survey in which respondents in participating countries are required to answer a core set of questions. In 2007 Australia, Finland, Greece, Korea, Taiwan and the USA took part. It was conducted in Australia in November 2007 by m.Net and its academic partner the Department of Commence at the University of Adelaide, and comprised 949 local respondents. The results for 2007 were generalisable for the 18-50 age group.</p>
<p>About m.NET Corporation
m.Net is Australia’s leading mobile solutions company and was established in 2001 to foster mobile broadband applications in Australia. The company provides a range of solutions to major media organisations, telecommunications carriers and their advertising clients through its unique mobile marketing platform. In December 2007 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu ranked m.Net as one of the fastest growing technology companies in Australia.</p>
<p>For further information or for a copy of the survey results, please contact:
Marisa Maio Mackay m.Net Corporation 08 8210 2039
Shuna Boyd BoydPR 02 9418 8100</p>

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